Hepatitis Litigation

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Meat, Poultry & Fish

Because Salmonella can live in healthy animals, it is ubiquitous on poultry farms, as well as in feedlots and slaughterhouses. During the slaughtering process, the contents of a chicken, turkey, or cow’s intestines, or fecal material present on the animal’s skin or hide, can contaminate meat. Salmonellathrives in a warm, moist environment, and any bacteria present on the meat’s surface quickly multiplies.

All cuts of chicken, turkeys, beef, and other meat that comes from animals that carry Salmonella have the potential to become surface-contaminated with Salmonella. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), between 30 and 35 percent of processed poultry is contaminated with Salmonella.** With ground meat products, the surface is distributed throughout the product during the grinding process. As contaminated meat is ground, more surface area is created, and additional meat becomes contaminated with Salmonella; the ground meat product is contaminated throughout.

Although Salmonella contamination is generally thought to be associated with poultry products, the presence of Salmonella in ground beef has been recognized since the mid-1970s. It is estimated that between 1 to 2.6% of beef samples are contaminated with Salmonella.* White et al. found that 20% of 200 retail ground meat samples were contaminated with 13 serotypes of Salmonella. Eighty-four percent of the isolates displayed resistance to at least one antibiotic, providing support to the theory that the food supply is a major source of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella.

Yellowfin tuna used to make sushi, sashimi, and ceviche was determined to be the source of a Salmonella Bareilly outbreak in the first few months of 2012, although the Salmonella outbreak was not announced or traced to a particular food source (the tuna) until April. At least 116 people from 20 states became ill with Salmonlla infections after eating the yellowfin tuna in rolls, as sashimi, or in ceviche purchased at restaurants or supermarkets. On April 13, 2012, the CDC announced that 58,828 pounds of frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, from Moon Marine USA Corporation, was being recalled for Salmonella Bareilly contamination. It was the source of the outbreak. See Moon Marine USA Nakaochi (tuna) Scrape, Sushi Salmonella Lawsuits

In 2011, Cargill announced the second largest food recall in U.S. history when it recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey for potential Salmonella Heidelberg contamination. At least 136 confirmed Salmonella infections and one death were attributed to the Salmonella Heidelberg-contaminated ground turkey products. Residents of 34 states became ill with Salmonella after consuming the ground turkey. See Cargill Ground Turkey Salmonella Lawsuits

The 2011 Salmonella outbreak traced to ground turkey followed an antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Newport outbreak among residents of several states was traced back to ground beef produced by Cargill subsidiary Beef Packers, Inc. in 2009. Safeway stores reportedly sold the Salmonella-contaminated ground beef as meatloaf, hamburger patties, and ground beef.

In January 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that at least 187 people in 39 states had become ill with Salmonella Montevideo infections. Testing by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and state health departments implicated pepper-coated salame (salami) produced by Daniele International, Inc. as the source of the outbreak, and shortly after the outbreak announcement Daniele International recalled 1,240,000 pounds of ready-to-eat varieties of Italian sausage products for potential Salmonella contamination. The firm later expanded its recall to include an additional 17,000 pounds of salami products. Since the outbreak was announced, Salmonella has been isolated from Daniele International products and from pepper supplied to Daniele by two pepper suppliers, Mincing Overseas Spice and Wholesome Spice. Both pepper suppliers import their pepper from overseas. The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing. See Daniele International Salame Salmonella Outbreak.

In 2009, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) identified 21 cases of drug-resistant Salmonella Newport in Colorado residents. CDPHE joined with other public health agencies to investigate the Salmonella outbreak, and the resulting investigation led to the discovery that at least 40 individuals across the country had become ill with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Newport infections after eating ground beef produced by Beef Packers, Inc. , of Fresno, California. Beef Packers, a subsidiary of Cargill, recalled 825,769 pounds of ground beef products for Salmonella Newport contamination.

Also in 2009, King Soopers, Inc. of Denver, Colorado, recalled approximately 466,236 pounds of ground beef products for Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 contamination. The ground beef recall was initiated after CDPHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined the ground beef products were the source of a SalmonellaTyphimurium DT104 outbreak among Colorado residents. Investigators from CDPHE, the CDC, and FSIS identified least 14 people in Colorado with Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 who had consumed Salmonella-contaminated ground beef products produced by King Soopers.

In 2005, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) investigated a Salmonella enteritidis outbreak among customers of the Old South buffet-style restaurant in Camden, South Carolina. A case-control study revealed that roast turkey served at the restaurant was statistically associated with illness, and laboratory results from an environmental investigation at the restaurant confirmed that turkey was the source of Salmonella within the restaurant. Investigators further learned that a malfunctioning oven prevented the turkey from reaching a temperature sufficient to kill Salmonella. In what proved to be one of the largest Salmonella outbreaks in South Carolina history, 304 confirmed and suspected Salmonella cases were identified during the course of the investigation, and one man died as a result of his infection. See Old South Restaurant Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuits.

Also in 2005, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) investigated a Salmonella outbreak in Williston, North Dakota. During its investigation, NDDOH learned that all individuals who had tested positive for Salmonella had eaten rotisserie chicken purchased from the Economart in Williston. An inspection of the Economart revealed deficient sanitation levels that could have led to cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat chicken and hot holding temperatures for rotisserie chicken at less than the North Dakota Food Code requirement of 135 degrees F. See Economart Salmonella Lawsuit.

* White DG, Zhao S, Sudler R, et al. The isolation of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella from retail ground meats. NEJM. 2001. 345:1147-1154. Sorensen O, Van Donkersgoed J, McFall M, et al. Salmonella spp. shedding by Alberta beef cattle and the detection of Salmonella spp. in ground beef. J Food Prot. 2002. 65:484-91. Lammerding AM, Garcia MM, Mann ED, et al. Prevalence of Salmonella and thermophilic Campylobacter in fresh pork, beef, veal and poultry in Canada. J Food Protect. 1988. 51:47-52.

**United States Department of Agriculture. 2009. A Focus on Salmonella -- Updated Version. Retrieved July 14, 2009, from http://fsrio.nal.usda.gov/document_fsheet.php?product_id=223

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